VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The National Institute of Children’s Health Quality reports that nearly half of American children experience trauma.

“There’s not a cookie cutter of what a child may experience,” said Dr. Crystal Crosby, owner of Sandcastle Kids Counseling.

Crosby specialized in child trauma and has worked with kids for more than a decade.

This year in Hampton Roads, multiple children were caught bringing weapons to school.

Children have also been victims of gun violence.

In January, Richneck Elementary School in Newport News was shut down for weeks after a 6-year-old shot his 1st-grade teacher.

In March, three children and three adults were killed in a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.

So what changes can adults expect when children are exposed to traumatic events?

“There are going to be adjustments in behavior issues because of the traumatic incident. That should be kind of expected that you’re going to see that. You’re going to see their anxiety level increase. They may start kind of looking around, being more paranoid about the experience,” she said.

Crosby said children may worry about the safety of their loved ones.

“You may see a difficulty in them concentrating or with their attention. They also may be withdrawn or feel sad,” she said. “I think as a parent you know the normal behaviors for your kids, so when you start to see some of these different behaviors of them not being able to concentrate or sit still, then you know they are reacting to that traumatic event.”

How long can these behaviors last?

“A lot of that is very normal. So if that happens a couple of days, a couple of weeks after the incident, then that’s normal,” Crosby said. But if it continues to happen a couple of months after, that’s when you really need to seek mental health clinicians or your doctor to get more help.”

Adults are encouraged to be open with kids about traumatic events.

“It’s important to be open with your kids and let them know it’s okay to ask questions and to have a conversation. “It shouldn’t be something that we just try to ignore and not talk about,” Crosby said.

She says children pay attention to how adults react in different situations.

“It’s also good as parents to model what kind of behavior is good. They’re going to see how you react to the shootings on the news and they’re going to model that behavior. So if you’re able to be comfortable and calm while you’re talking about it, then your kids are going to feel that, and feel more able to discuss it,” Crosby said.

Should adults show children their emotions?

“I think everybody is like, ohh emotions, we don’t want to show them. But, they’re not these bad scary things. They’re showing us there’s something going on inside of us and we need to express them and figure out what’s going on,” Crosby said.

She says adults should explain why they feel those emotions.

“So I think if a parent can show, ‘yea I am kind of nervous and I am scared.’ And then also say ‘this is why, and this is what I am going to do about it. Maybe I am nervous about my safety, but I’m locking the doors at night so I feel a little bit more comfortable,'” Crosby said.

She wants people to remember that children can experience trauma in a variety of incidents. These incidents spread from parents’ divorce to violence.

Overall, Crosby wants adults to help children heal from these situations.

“You’re showing them it’s okay to express those emotions and that there are things you can do about those emotions to be able to kind of move forward and process.

Here are resources to help children with traumatic events:

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